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Mikaela Sanders

3rd Grade Crew Teacher

Meet Ms. Mikaela!

Mikaela was born in Minnesota. Due to her step-father’s job, she moved around quite a bit as a child calling Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Maryland her home at various points.  Growing up, Mikaela always enjoyed being around children and teaching others. She babysat often and completed a work-study program during her senior year of high school where she worked in a daycare center. It was during this same year, that Mikaela really started to ponder her career path.  Mikaela found great support from two amazing teachers that were a positive influence on her learning. She credits them with getting her through high school; they created enjoyable learning experiences and provided real-life applications. They valued her as an individual and helped her to reach her potential.  By the end of her senior year, she knew that was something she wanted to do for other children and make that difference as well. After high school, Mikaela attended Towson University just outside of Baltimore, MD. She took a few detours along the way and even pursued restaurant management for some time. She soon realized sometimes managing adults can be much harder than managing kids! Recognizing the restaurant life wasn’t what she wanted long term, she returned to school to do what she really wanted...to become a teacher!


Upon graduating from college in 2001, Mikaela taught in Baltimore County Public Schools where she taught first, fourth, and fifth grades. In 2006, Mikaela and her husband, Will, welcomed their son, Mason, into their family. There was a large focus on standardized testing in the public schools at that time and Mikaela and Will wanted something different for their son. In 2008, she accepted a position at Friends School of Baltimore, a private school close to their home in Baltimore. They offered an on site preschool for Mason so Mikaela could even see him during her school day. During her six year tenure at Friends, she taught first and fifth grades. 


Mikaela and her husband knew they didn’t want to stay in Baltimore forever and felt they should probably move before Mason became too much older. Since her husband worked remotely, this provided them with a lot of flexibility. They had visited Colorado in recent years and had friends who had recently moved as well. Their love for the outdoors drew them to Colorado and in 2014 they landed in Castle Rock.  


School choice was new to Mikaela and she didn’t become aware of Renaissance until just a few weeks prior to their move. At that time, enrollment had closed. However, the more she read about Renaissance the more it felt similar to the private school they were coming from. They were barely unpacked in their new home when Mikaela attended the first parent orientation of the year. Bummed that they couldn’t get their son in, Mason attended two other elementary schools in Castle Rock. After taking a couple years to get settled in their new environment, Mikaela returned to teaching at one of these schools where she taught 2nd grade and worked as a literacy interventionist working with students in kindergarten through eighth grades. It wasn’t until Mason was in fifth grade that he was granted a spot at REMS. During Mason’s first year, Mikaela volunteered as a Crew Parent and realized first hand what a special place our school is.  


Mikaela knew she wanted to teach at Renaissance, but also recognized that she needed her space and Mason needed his. In 2019, Mason matriculated to Renaissance Secondary School and Mikaela joined the staff at Renaissance Elementary as a third grade teacher. She even got to work with Ms. Billie who had been Mason’s fifth grade teacher. The transition from being a parent at our school to being a teacher has been seamless for Mikaela. Upon talking with her you can tell how passionate she is about our school and about teaching.  “I think it’s necessary to see the good in all of our students. It’s important to know them as individuals and to honor the unique gifts they offer to our crew.” She also shared that she often asks herself if she would want to be a student in her crew.  “I want to instill a love of learning, a desire to explore and take risks, and curiosity in all of my students.”   


The 2019-2020 school year marked her 16th year teaching but her first time teaching third grade. Mikaela said, “Third grade is really enjoyable to teach; actually every grade is wonderful in its unique way. However, third graders generally enjoy school, are much more independent, and they appreciate almost anything and everything I do…. And they still think I’m funny when I do silly things!”  


When asked what she likes most about working at REMS she said, “There are so many things! This job is very fulfilling and I appreciate the supportive community of students, parents, and staff. I appreciate the autonomy we are given; we are encouraged to take risks, and there is a trust in us that we will all do what is best for kids. I enjoy getting to learn alongside my students and sharing experiences together; especially on our voyages. The bonding and learning that takes place on our overnight voyages is so valuable. It’s neat to have those shared experiences, that often push us, to reflect back on when things are challenging in the classroom. Overall, this is just such a special community to be a part of.”    


Mikaela and her crew made the best of their remote learning period this past spring. It was evident they had a strong sense of crew and worked hard to maintain this even outside of the classroom.  Each week they enjoyed their Thursday crew meetings with a theme. They continued to celebrate birthdays with the birthday child getting to request something different- dance parties, dress in a color day, and even dress with a Jurassic Park focus were some of the ways they celebrated.  As a special end of the year activity, Mikaela and her crew made homemade ice cream.  “It was brilliant and such a fun treat! Our whole family participated and had a ton of fun!”  Shared a parent from Mikaela’s crew.   


Ms. Billie had this to say about Mikaela, “She is very knowledgeable, organized, and has a wealth of knowledge to share with our staff. And, she is the mother of one of my former students. I feel we were so lucky to add her to our staff last year! It has been fun to work with her.”  A parent in Mikaela’s crew shared this, “Mikaela goes above and beyond to get to know and connect with her students and families.  This has been such a wonderful year for our child and our family.”


Outside of school, Mikaela enjoys spending time with her family and their two dogs, Disco and Olive.  They like to play games, cook, and travel.  Mikaela also enjoys reading and can often be found with a book she’s reading professionally and one she’s reading for pleasure. Finally, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, or just relaxing on her deck.  


It is always wonderful seeing a parent move into a teaching role at our school! Thank you, Mikaela, for sharing your passion for teaching with our 3rd graders.